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Given the limited options for theatrical release, short films are generally condemned to the purgatory of YouTube, which makes the case of “World of Tomorrow” especially striking. Since premiering at last year’s Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Short Film Grand Jury Prize, this 16-minute animation has been garlanded with the kind of praise usually reserved for movies with proper distribution and marketing budgets.

Its creator, independent animator Don Hertzfeldt, is an established cult favorite, beloved for his ability to imbue crude stick figures with uncommon profundity. His breakout film, 2000’s “Rejected,” earned Hertzfeldt his first Academy Award nomination (“World of Tomorrow” netted a second), but he’s best known for the intro sequence he made for an episode of “The Simpsons” in 2014 — two of the strangest minutes ever screened on primetime TV.

“World of Tomorrow” inhabits similar territory as that “Simpsons” spot, exploring themes of technology, memory and loss through the tale of a girl who’s contacted from the future by her own clone. Without giving too much away, suffice to say that the film accomplishes more in its brief runtime than most features you’ll see this year. Bring tissues.

Tokyo’s Theatre Image Forum will be showing “World of Tomorrow” from May 21 in a double-bill with “It’s Such a Beautiful Day,” an anthology of earlier Hertzfeldt shorts, with further screenings planned nationwide.

For details, visit newdeer.net/tomorrow.

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